Friday, September 30, 2005

Are You Ready For Some Football!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's that time of the week again, when a young man's thoughts turn to the lengthening shadows, the crisp fall air, and the bone crunching action of steriodal men playing football on a natural turf field! The picture above is one of "The Bus" presented for the enjoyment of one Mr. Trumpet a died in wool Steelers fan and fellow Yankee supporter.

Here we are, already in week four and I'm reeling a bit from last week's decent into incompetence, not only from the Chicago NFL Franchise, but also from my less than distinguished picks. After ending the first three weeks at an impressive 10-6 against the spread, last week's disastrous 5-11 puts me under water for the season at 15-17.

The beautiful thing about America though is that salvation is always at hand. Turn over a new leaf, start a new life and forget about the past is the mantra of thieves, whores and unsuccessful football prognosticaters! So with a fresh outlook on life, a complete recoding of my super computing NFL model, and a couple well said prayers I venture back into the fray and present Pursuit's picks for Week 4, which by the way is also known as "The Week Even The Bears Can Do No Harm":

Pats 5.5 Chargers; Take the points and get out of town.
Jags 4 Broncs: Broncs after a Monday night extravaganza will fall to the Jags by more than 4
Bengals 9.5 Texans: Bengals looked good last week, but then they played the Bears. Texans.
Colts 7 Titans: Peyton will put the Titans to shame.
Chiefs 2 Eagles: Chiefs
Bucs 6.5 Lions: NFC North grudge match, take the points even if the Lions suck
Giants 3 Rams: Rams are sooooooo 2002, take the Gnts
Bills Pick 'em Saints: Go with the Saints
Redskins 2 Seahawks: Joe Gibs takes the fall this week, Seahawks
Ravens 7 Jets: Ravens by 7? No way, I don't care if I'm playin QB for the Jets. Take the Jets.
Falcons 6 Vikes: Vikes. I have no good reason for this pick, but I'm tellin ya its good.
Raiders 3 Cowboys: Raiders shouldn't be favored until, you know, they actually win a game. Cowboys.
Cards 2.5 49ers; Cards, they're due.
Panthers 7.5 Packers: This spread insults Farve. He'll do something about it. Take the Pack.

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Thursday Night Wine Blogging

Last week's first Thursday night wine blogging was so delightful.....well, for me at least.......that I thought I'd do installment two tonight.

As you'll recall, when we last left off I opened a nice bottle from the Rhone region of France, that was moderately priced below 20, American. The wine was an excellent example of why I've come to appreciate the French approach to wine making in that it displayed a delicate complexity that in my view is hard to find in similarly priced American wines. In fact, I'd argue that American wines in this price range tend to be quite similar, whereas French wines display more finess and character. If this is why you drink wine, and you can't afford more for a weekday snort (and really, who can?) then I would suggest drinking French most often.

Tonight, a little something different. To celebrate (or is it morn?) my last weeknight with no gainful employment the following morn, I thought we'd venture up in price and complexity to the St. Emilion region of Bourdeax.

The Wine: Clos De L'Oratoire 2000

I'm expecting some very good things here. First St. Emilion is my second favorite Bourdeax area, Margaux being the first. Secondly, St. Emilion as a medium bodied example of the Bourdeaxs stands well as a drinking wine. Thirdly, Clos De L'Oratoire is a "Grand Cru Classe" wine, and is considered to be one of the finest of the region. Finally, 2000 was a knock out vintage, perhaps the best since '82 or even '61 if you listen to those who claim to know about this sort of thing.

As you'd expect we're paying for this experience. I almost always try to keep my non-occassion wine consumption expense to less than 25 American per bottle. So tonight, I've contrived a celebratory event which doesn't justify the $69 bucks this baby cost, but it at least provides an excuse.

St. Emilion is the oldest of the Bourdeax regions. A little research yields the insight that the town is named after a Hermit that lived there in the 7th or 8th century. While many, or perhaps most Bourdeax wines use Cabernet Saugvignon as their primary grape, St. Emilion focuses on Merlot, since the area is among the first in Bourdeax to get frost, and Merlot ripens earlier than Cabernet. Some more history on the town can be found here.

Enough of all that, lets pop this baby open.

The cork looks fine, and a hearty "pop" announced the opening.

Lets pour a bit

I'm getting a hearty nose, a bit of tannic scent and forest sort of smell that is nice. As I write this the tast of berries is in my mouth, although I have not had a sip yet. Let try another whiff. If I didn't know better I'd say there was a little Grenache in this, but I don't think it is used as a blending grape in this wine. It is opening as I type, so lets get to the first taste.

Whoo, this baby is tight. Tannins are farely pronounced right now, the mouth is quite lengthy. As the tannins fade I'm left with some vanilla, tobacco and cherry. It really needs to breathe a bit though, so I'm going to pout a glass and lay off for about 15 minutes. One thing I'll note is the color of the bubbles that circle the top of the glass when it is poured. They are a deep red, quite different than last week's wine or my other typical weekday bottles. Ok, I'll be back in 15.

Alright it has been about 13 minutes and I'm getting anxious so lets have a little taste, shall we? First the nose, I'm getting much more sense of the grape now. The tannins have receded a bit, and the fruit is more pronounced. Taking a sip; this is nice....the wine has relaxed a bit and the like the nose, the taste has much more fruit. Cherry, some berrys and a lasting mouth of vanilla. The wine is quite smooth, but I would have expected a little more structure, perhaps that will develop.

The nose continues to develop and has taken on a smoky scent that compliments the fruit. There is some pepper as well. This wine is definately alive! The bottle has now been open for about 40 minutes and some layers of taste are now begining to develop, I'll try to describe them...cherry with some berry on the front, that then yields to smoke that seems to fill the mouth, finally a sense of vanilla is left that lasts and lasts, changing slowly to almost a port flavor.

This is clearly a Merlot based wine with the cherry front, and I'm thinking the smoke is coming from a Cabernet Franc. I'd be shocked if there wasn't some Carbernet Sauvignon in there as well, but to be honest I'm not sure I'm tasting it so much as I know it is likely to be in there. I think the Grenache that I thought I smelled earlier is really that Cab Franc. Man, I gotta tell you this is full sensory experience. I haven't had a drink in five minutes and my mouth is still alive with flavor!

This is a very nice wine. Worth $70? I don't know, is any wine worth that much money? Probably not in the pure economic sense, but this wine delivers structure, full bodied flavor, and a overall sensory experience that transcends the nose and mouth and fills the taster with a full wine drinking experience. Yes, I would definately by this wine again. I'd pair it with any red meat, and definately roasted foul. Here is another mini review that I was able to find while sipping. I'm signing off, and will enjoy a couple more sips.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Soccer Doesn't Hurt People, People Who Play Soccer Do

In high school I played on our Football team, and those of us on the team considered ourselves to be the "tough guys" of the school. The other fall sport was soccer, and while nobody openly mocked the soccer players, there was kind of an unspoken acknowledgement that soccer was the sport of wimps.

Folks, above we have indisputable evidence that my friends and I were comfortable only in our conceit and misguided views. See that bone that bends down? Well, it isn't supposed to be doing that, which is why I ended up in the hospital with PD2 yesterday after she took a spill on the school soccer field.

Who knew? To be completely candid, I suppose I should have for starters. PD1 has been playing soccer for 5 years, and with each new season the girls get a little more physical. Now playing at the U14 level, her games have a fairly intense physicality that I had no idea existed on the soccer field.

This year is PD2's first in soccer. We wanted her to learn a sport since she previously had led a fairly unathletic life and needed to learn a little bit about rising to life's challenges. For a future fashion designing singer (where her interests really lie) she has played with spirit and while not the best player on her team, has won over her teammates with her enthusiasm and friendly nature. She also has been getting better. In fact, after Sunday's game, I congratulated her on her increased willingness to get in the fray and fight for the ball.


Yesterday in gym, she was playing a coed game, and made a move to steal the ball from a boy in her class. As you can see, it really didn't go so well.

All in all I was quite proud of how she handled everything. She was so stoic in the car as we drove over to the emergency room, that I held out hope that it was only a bad sprain. This hope was quickly dashed by the above posted x-ray which indicated a need to set the bone.

"Two seconds and done" became our motto for a while last night. PD2 knew the setting was going to hurt, but she grabbed on to the idea that the doctor would set the bone in two seconds and then be done. It gave her courage to get through it and see through the pain. So much so that she asked not to be "twighlighted" so that there would be no recovery time from the anesthetic and she could get right home. The doctor would have none it though and insisted that she go under.

"Two seconds and done". She kept saying it everytime fear began to take a hold, and before she knew what was going on, it was over.

So we're home today, and the soccer season is over for the next month or so. PD2 is disappointed, but this will pass faster than she thinks, and like everything else will make her stronger. I've told the story before about how she became so scared of lightening when we were on vacation in Rome that she threw up in the piazza where we were having dinner. Mrs. P used our San Peligreno to wash it down a near by drain. In short, she hadn't yet developed her ability to cope with fear. Or at least she didn't think she had.

The point is, I think PD2 surprised herself more than anyone else yesterday. She had a nasty little injury, but used her will power and good nature to find the means to get through it. There is a lesson for all of us in this. Life hands us setbacks, and painful lessons that we wouldn't wish on our enemies or friends in any circumstance. These problems can take almost any form with the only consistent trait being that they present us with a very clear choice between two options. We can either quit, or we can find our way through the pain and uncertainty and get to the other side where we will be stronger and more fit to fight on. We can receive hope and encouragement from our friends, but in the end it is a solo journey, and each of us must find our own way of coping.

PD2 fought through her challenge yesterday, and I couldn't be more proud of her, or more certain that she will be able to handle the problems that come her way in the future.Posted by Picasa

George Bush and The New Malaise

It almost sounds like a band name doesn't it? Ok, a name for a band of velour wearing, coma inducing, Holiday Inn playing no talents, but at least it's a better name than "Murph and Magictones".... which with this reference, W can even play to his base and claim that he is"on a mission from God". Actually, I think he's already done that.

Please tell me it won't get any worse. I've never been a huge W fan, but he has been right on the WOT, stood up to the increasingly insane left ("now with triple the amount of hating action!"), and delivered a rebounding economy through across the board tax cuts. So why has he chosen his second term to do a very good impression of the noted nail pounder, Jimmy Carter? I saw the linked article's headline and thought, "can the malaise speech be far behind?" and sure enough, the very same question is asked by the writer in the first paragraph. I swear, if he starts wearing sweaters and tells us to turn our thermostats down it will get pretty ugly around here.

I'm really beginning to think ole W has just lost his enthusiasm for the job. On one hand who could blame him? Katrina is an excellent example on why I'd be tempted to take a powder. First, the guy is blamed for the faults of local and state governments. Then the press reports a largely false story about the disaster, as if the real disaster wasn't all disastery enough for them. Then Rita hits, and the critics start to complain that Bush is causing a distraction from the relief efforts. Were it me, I'd tell the whole country to go pound sand.

But it isn't me, and I didn't ask for the job. Bush did. Despite winning a majority of the vote, something no candidate has managed since his father won with 53.9% of the vote in 1988, W has seemed oddly detached from his leadership responsibilities. He has been virtually silent regarding the historic success in Afghanistan, spent little time providing leadership on Iraq, mentioned little or nothing about our economic success, and utterly failed to provide any leadership on Social Security reform.

As a result his administration is adrift, and he has left himself vulnerable to critiques from the wackiest of whack jobs. Lunatics from ANSWER and Code Pink allied with the pathetic Cindy Sheehan have managed to gain traction with the demands that the United States surrender to the terrorists in Iraq. Think about that. These people, who are actively anti-American, are demanding that the U.S. surrender to a ragtag group of death fetishists, and Bush has nothing to say! If groups with as little credibility as this can gain ground politically against Bush, one wonders what the late, but unlamented Doe, would have been able to accomplish had Hale-Bopp shown up a couple of years later.

So it seems we're stuck with President Snooze. We might just have been lucky to get him to pay attention for the first term, and now we will have to muddle through this second term as best as we can. I really don't see how this is possible when so much is at stake. We do have the benefit of our opposition though, in that the left is spending so much time hating that responsible liberals haven't really had time to come up with a credible alternative plan.

This status quo won't last forever. Soon, perhaps very soon, some Democrat is going to propose that we raise taxes, despite the fact that government receipts are higher than they've been in the history of the union. We've already seen demands for more anti-poverty spending which ignores the fact that Bush has spent more on such programs than any other president. And of course we have the pro-surrender crowd.

So Bush must wake up and wake up now. He should jump out in front of the budget cutting efforts that are developing offsets to pay for Katrina and go one better by demanding that we come up with twice as many cuts as are needed. I'm sure the vastly overrated Karl Rove can come up with a catchy name for this approach. I'd suggest the "Disaster Relief Down payment".

Next, Snoozy should begin to talk up our continued success in Iraq. The constitution process there is moving along and Bush must make sure that the U.S. gets credit for its ratification which in my view is almost inevitable. It's a sad commentary on our political status, but Bush also needs to continue to sell this war. His enemies on this issue, while not exclusively anti-American, have a very large anti-American contingent that must be defeated. This will only be accomplished by continuing to sell the war at home, and adapting our strategy and tactics on the battlefield. If Bush isn't making the effort with the people, I wonder what kind of direction he is giving our military leaders.

Finally, Bush must push through permanent tax cuts. More than anything else, Bush's across the board rate cuts have been responsible for our rebounding economy. More importantly, the cuts have delivered record government receipts that instead of increasing the deficit, have reduced it. It is imperative that we maintain this momentum, which will allow the Fed to continue to slowly raise rates and fight any renewed chance of inflation.

that's it. Not exactly an expansive agenda for a second term president, but probably all we can hope for at this time. Bush has a responsibility to all Americans that he his not at this time living up to. It's past time for him to end the vacation.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Once Proud NFL Franchise....

Tom, makes a derogatory comment about the Chicago NFL Franchise in the comments section below and I respond to it here:

Oh you're just an uniformed fan. If you knew anything about football you'd understand that genius takes many forms.

For example, anybody can put people with real football experience at the top of an organization, but the truly wise team, hires an ex auditor. And that ex auditor, continuing in this legacy of genius could go out and seek the advice of professionals and hire a GM based on the advice of football people, but again anybody can do that. Anybody who is as unimaginative as you bub.

No, the real visionary goes out and hires a management recruiting firm to make a recommendation on who the GM should be. That is how it is done pal.
Not wanting to get accused of any inside the box thinking, you know that our GM is going to out think all the other teams with this type of legacy behind him...oh yes, you can bet on that. So he isn't going go and draft a can't miss QB with a number 9 pick, nope he's going to trade down, take a lesser QB who can't stay healthy and then use the extra pick to draft a defensive end that nobody has heard of since.

Then, then we're really going to get down to work, because once you've drafted a QB who can't stay healthy, you want to leave the team bereft of any viable back-up QB. Not just one year, but for two in a row! Yup, it sounds insane, but that is just because your mind ain't right boy. See if you leave the team without a QB that means the players will know they're going to have to work harder! More effort + less money! Friggin' genius is what it is, but fools such as you are simply too entrenched in your thinking to see it.

Most teams at this point are done, but not us, no way we're the Bears man! Next, what you want to do is pass up the rookie running running back who has gained more yardage in his first two starts in the NFL than any running back in the history of the league for a malcontent head case that won't sign until the week before the season. See nobody will expect that plan to work so that means we've now got them where we want them. Completely unprepared for his break-out game in Week 15. Fools!

Now, to seal the deal here is the real ticket: Ignore the Tightend position for at least a decade! Who cares if your guy invented the modern form of the position in the early sixties? Who cares if the Tightend is often the second leading receiver in terms of number of catches on the winningest of teams? We're the friggin Bears and we're so bloody smart we're gonna play with only 10 guys and a lump who does nothing on offense! Hell we're even going to have interchangeable lumps, might even name the position something like the interchangeable lump guy! Yup, we do it cuz we're just smarter than everyone else.

Now, I've saved the best for last. Are you ready? No real Left Tackle! Ha, most would call us crazy for that one, but we haven't had one since Covert retired in '91 or whenever it was. Has it hurt us? Well some would point to the incredible string of injured Quarterbacks and ineffective running backs that we've had over the past 15 years. Not us though pal, we point to a new stadium financed with public funds, NFL money, and Personal Seat licenses! Sure we threw in a couple of bucks too, cuz you know we're not completely shameless.

Well, ok, yes we are. But look at those stands! The mopes fill 'em every Sunday. Hell we could dress Oprah up and put her at Left Tackle and they'd still come.

Hey, wait a second........

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Are You Ready For Some Football!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Well here we are at week three and my record to date against the spread is 18-14. Not bad, but we've got to get those numbers up! So, I've run the models, stress tested the results, back proofed 15 seasons of data, and come up with the following prescient picks:

Bengals by 3 over Bears: Da Bears
Rams 6.5 Titans: Rams
Eagles 8 Raiders: Eagles
Jets 2.5 Jags: Jags
Vikes 4 Saints: Vikes
Panthers 3 Dolphins: Dolphins
Colts 13.5 Browns: Colts
Bills 3 Falcons: ills
Bucs 3.5 Pack: Pack in the battle of the bays
Seahawks 6.5 Cards: Cards
Steelers 3 Pats: Steelers
Cowboys 6.5 49ers: 49ers
Chargers 5.5 Giants: Chargers
Broncos 3 Chiefs: Broncs.

Bear Down!

UPDATE: Anyone see my wallet around here?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Sex Day Is Back

Over at The Functional Ambivalent. The topic? Hotel Sex, and it includes the line "Doff their knickers".

How can you not click over? Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Late Night Wine Blogging

I've been enjoying some new wines lately, having made a fairly big buy at the wine store last week. I should qualify that; big in terms of number of bottles, not in terms of cost. I purchased around 24 bottles of wine and my total cost was about $305 before tax. I'll let you do the per bottle calcs.

So Mrs. P is in Ireland tonight, PD1 is in Washington D.C. and PD 2 is in bed. PD2 and I have a breakfast date tomorrow before school that I am looking forward to.

Typically I'll finish the day with a glass of wine and since I needed to open a new bottle tonight, I thought I'd blog the tasting live. Bloody exciting don't you think?

Tonight's selection is Ermitage du Pir S' Loup, Cuvee Saint Agnes 2003. Having bought this bottle blind I really don't know much about it other than it cost me 19.99.

After uncorking the bottle I've poured a small sample into the the glass, given it a swirl will now inhale. My initial reaction is that it has a rather strong nose, some floral almost perfumy accents which is odd for a red and also a small offputting musky smell. It is definately not corked, and I've experienced this musky scent before with wines that have a reasonably high amount (over 15%) of Grenache in their blend I think that is what I'm smelling. I'll let it breath for a couple minutes before tasting.

While we're waiting lets guess at the blend. Based on the fruit, spice and musky scent I'm guessing we have some Syrah, Grenache and something else that I can't quite figure. Maybe Mourvedre. It annoys the hell out of me that the French don't provide this information.

UPDATE: Ok whoa, I love when I do this. I just found this site which rates the 2002. Click on "wine writing" to get the blend from that vintage. Good, huh?

It's been about 15 minutes and the nose is definately improved. The perfumy scent which I would expect not to like is actually quite attractive and the musky smell, while still slightly present is greatly reduced. This wine opens in the back of my throat just from the nose without actually tasting it. As for the taste, here goes.

I'm getting some chocolate that opens to cherry and tobacco which then drys slowly away. The mouth lasts though in a very pleasant way. This lingering mouth has a bit of apple and some earth. Not bad at all. This is not a wine that is built for aging and would serve best as a good table wine with moderately flavored food and of course cheese.

Wow, I'm still getting some wonderful apple intensity in my mouth 3 to 4 minutes after tasting.

So as I was saying this is nice lighter red, typical of the more delicate French approach to wine making although it does have enough fruit and boldness to satisfy fans of the California style. I'd happily pair this wine with roast chicken or turkey, and of course lamb. I find it very interesting that when it comes to tanins the wine is very light, yet it still packs a nice, lasting pop in the mouth that reveals itself in layers.

Second glass. The nose is now fully developed. The musky scent is gone, and the floral scents predominate, which I must admit I'm not thrilled with. They almost have a false tinge to them that is a bit chemical. Not so much awful as it is eyebrow raising. These same floral scents are definately driving the taste which is rich and a little more fruity on second taste. The wine is now fully open and delivering more flavor on the inital taste. The lasting mouth continues and those wonderful apples are still there with the floral structure as the one continuous underlying theme.

I really enjoy this wine.

Rating? I don't know how folks like Parker come up with a number. Perhaps some day I'll write up my thoughts regarding that practice more fully. Suffice it to say I think numerical ratings are bunk. Here is what you need to know. This is a good wine, better than average, but not a great wine. At 19 American, you'd do well to buy some but I wouldn't pay more.

The Pursuit of Happiness Moves Markets

Well I can't say that it is exactly true but we do have the strange phenomena that I sign my deal to return as an active, productive member of our economy on Wednesday, and today the market closes up! As Drudge would say, "Developing....." Posted by Picasa

Race In America II

This post is a follow up to my previous post under the title Race In America. It is probably best to read that post and my exchange in the comments section with Duff to get fully caught up on where we are.....which, I think is somewhere.

Duff and I, while coming at this issue from two opposite sides of the American experience have actually found some common ground in our discussion. We both agree that racism and hatred between the races has been greatly improved in our lifetimes. I think that both of us see this improvement as the recognition by white Americans of their obligation to overcome the specter of past abuses and crimes (which sadly were not always crimes in the past), and ensure that the hope and promise of our country, where "all men are created equal" is true for anyone who calls himself American.

We also agree that even today, after much progress, everything is still not well. Racism, while not as institutionalized as in the past remains an issue, but not nearly as significant of one as the much more common case of bias. This is not a distinction without difference, and it is bias that I believe sits behind much of what Duf discusses. As a result we have some good news, and we have some bad news. The good? Very few people appoint superiority on the basis of racial distinctions these days and encouragingly, those that do are viewed as mouth breathing fools.

The bad? Bias is with us to this day, and in my view will never fully be eliminated. It is a fact of human nature that people prefer to be with those whom they believe they are similar to. It goes without saying that this is an unevolved point of view that limits the human experience to a comfort zone that is neither educational nor expanding. Those who are unexposed to the new and different suffer from a limited world view and miss out on so much of that our short lives have to offer. They also deny the joy of their experience to the rest of us and leave us with little or no knowledge of the part of life that they keep off limits.

Duff and I have also been debating the merits (Duff) or lack thereof (me) of the man who I named "the idiot rapper" Kanye West. While we were subconsciously using Kanye as a comedic mechanism with which to skewer each other and maintain a lightness to our debate it occurred to me that Kanye actually stands as an insight into what I wanted to discuss in this post: If we can agree that bias is more the problem these days, than racism how can we minimize it so that we can become one America?

Not to put words in Duff's mouth, but I think I can say that for Duff and other black Americans Kanye stands as an artist who speaks to the black American experience, and sheds light on the plight of the subset of those who are trapped in an underclass existence. Unsurprisingly, my view is a bit different. For me, Kanye is very much the same thing that we've heard all of our lives. I won't quote lyrics here, but much of his music is about life in the black underclass; usually its hopelessness, at times its hopefulness, and most often how life is a struggle against the authorities or fellow Americans who happen to be white.

For the majority of white Americans like me who are committed to a truly color blind society we find artists such Mr. West and race baiters such as Jackson, Sharpton and the loathsome Farrakhan particularly frustrating. This is true not just because we don't like being called racists and haters, but because we see the polarizing affect this talk has on the black community. There is no doubt that there are hurdles that we as a society must clear in the future if we are to achieve our goal, but how can we be expected to do this if our partners are deeply influenced by men who speak only of our differences and the intransigence of the few who wish to keep us apart. How can the portion of black Americans in our society who are born into desperate conditions be expected to believe that a better life is possible if all of the messages of their church, their social leaders and their artists accentuate the obstacles.

I argued to Duff, perhaps a bit ineloquently, that Kanye's act has been done. So done. This is true of so much pop music, but Kanye and those with his talent have a greater obligation. The question before them is really more of a challenge. Is your talent to be little more than the product behind a marketing plan that profits by producing the same divisive drek that already fills our culture, or is your ability to create art that makes people stop and listen to be the inspiration for building a better life for those in need? So far it seems to me Kanye has chosen the former.

Jackson and the other two are lost. The have used their divisive tactics to build a power base and a national stage at the expense of those they claim to serve. Other leaders, some with new ideas will hopefully replace them.

I am intentionally focusing on the half of this equation that requires black Americans to make changes because my point to Duff and others is that we know there is bias out there. There are those of us that have tried to change our family, our friends and co-workers, and we have been very successful. Yet, there are times when we feel that our partners in black America are not fully with us. To this day we have to be so careful about what we say and how we say it. The danger of uttering the insult that was never our intent or even something that we could conceive is always present and causes even the most enlightened of us to behave differently. Hell, as I write this I question whether I should post it, or just let the whole thing go away, I gain nothing by writing these words and risk being branded as a racist.

This is critical point if we are to eliminate bias, because as much as bias is a white problem for not wanting to accept those that are different, it is also a black problem for wanting to remain different. Assimilation has been both the answer and the challenge for other ethnic groups in America and it will be no different for black Americans. Because of past sins against them it may be more difficult, but in my view it is the only answer. Some tough questions must be asked and answered if we are to succeed. Is it wrong to "talk white"? Why is it wrong and insulting for Bill Cosby to suggest that black Americans need to focus more on values and education? How much longer can black on black crime continue at its current rate? Why do so many view Condi and Colin as sellouts instead of role models?

More than anything, these are the cultural impediments to success for those black Americans stuck in an underclass. It is also these things that make it more difficult for black Americans that have moved into the middle and upper classes of America since they find it hard to reach back and help those coming up behind them.

This leads me to Duff’s excellent thoughts on the existence of different classes in America and their impact on our lives. Long ago, as an assignment for a marketing class of all things, I had to read “Class” by Paul Fussell. A tremendously insightful book about the behaviors of the different class subcultures in our country, Fussell’s premise was that Americans spend a tremendous amount of time denying that our society is stratified into different classes. He then went on to demonstrate not only that these classes exist, but also detailed the different behaviors of each.

My point in citing “Class” is that I wonder how much of actual bias experienced by black Americans and perceived as racial is actually the result of bias due to differing class levels. Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that all black Americans are of a lower class than white Americans. I am however, making the point that the vast majority of ALL Americans are in a lower class than somebody out there – it’s how the system works. Where a lower class white American might board a bus and see a wealthier woman clutch her purse a little tighter and think, “snooty bitch”, a lower class black American experiencing the same encounter might think “racist bitch”.

The question then becomes is class level bias wrong? I would argue that the answer is "not always". Most people who have visited here regularly know that I proudly proclaim myself as a snob. I think we should aspire to be our best, and I don’t particularly care to spend time with those that have lower standards than I do. This is not to say I won’t hang with people from other classes, I just want to hang with those in other classes that care about their appearance and can teach me a thing or two. Recognizing that these differences exist is a way of ordering our lives and in the example above keeping ourselves safe – I see no reason why the woman should not clutch her purse a little tighter in the presence of either person.

So both sides have work to do if we are to get our house in order. White Americans must continue to welcome others into their schools, businesses, communities and homes. Black Americans must resist the temptation to see racial bias into those events where it does not exist. Both groups must work to help black Americans continue to assimilate into our societal mainstream.

I remain hopeful for continued progress. The black middle class is expanding and new leaders are emerging while white Americans by and large remain committed to a multi cultural society. All of us just want to live in a world where we are all Americans - no descriptor needed.

All Is Right With The World

I love it when a plan comes together. I also love it when fate just happens to play into your hands. Whatever the case, we woke up this morning with the planets in proper alignment, and the Yankees back in first with four games left. A critical three game series with Boston this weekend will seal the deal.

Click above to read "Top of the Heap"

Or go celebrate here.

Or go mock these guys.

UPDATE: Ooops, got a little ahead of myself.....there's a little over one week left in the season!

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rockin' Good Tunes

Vodka Pundit posted an outraged rant yesterday about the pressure record companies are putting on Apple to raise the prices of Itunes downloads. This had two affects on me.

One: I couldn't agree more. Raise the prices and I'm gone boys. Kill the golden goose if you must.

Two: I need to get me some new tunes! So I picked up the following this morning:

Tegan and Sara: Walking With a Ghost
Audioslave: Be Yourself
John Scofield with John Mayer: I Don't Need No Doctor
Low Millions: Eleanor
Fastball: The Way
John Butler Trio: Zebra
Ray LaMontegne: Trouble
Spoon: I Turn My Camera On
Pete Yorn: Crystal Village

Sorry PDS, still no Hank Sr. I did almost pick up Jambalya though.

No Legs, No Feet, No Football

Several years ago I ran into a story about a competitive swimmer who had the unfortunate disability of not possessing any hands. Despite what would seem to me to be necessary attributes for a swimmer, the guy somehow managed to actually be quite good. Finally, after a season's worth of practices and swim meets the handless swimmer won his race and was in the process of celebrating with his teammates when the meet officials informed him that he was disqualified, and his win would not count in the standings.

You see, they explained, the rules were quite clear. To win, you must touch the wall with your hands.

Obviously outraged, the team protested the ruling, only to lose their appeal. The swimmer himself was able to find humor in the whole situation which in my view made him a better man than the officials that disqualified him, or the other teams that accepted the award of a victory that they did not earn.

So I read this linked article with a sense of deja vu today. An excerpt:

"He said Bobby couldn't play because he didn't have shoes on," Colonel White assistant Kerry Ivy said. "He told me the rule says a player must wear shoes, thigh pads and knee pads. I told him, 'He needs feet before he can wear shoes. He needs legs before he can wear those other pads. What are you thinking? Then he said Bobby needed a medical waiver. I told him he'd already played three games, but he said those were the rules."

The decision in the game at Mount Healthy left Martin in tears.

"It's the first time in my life I ever felt like that," Martin said Monday as he readied for practice after school. "Everybody was looking at me, talking about what I didn't have. I felt like a clown. I hated it. I just wanted to know why it was different this game than all the rest."

Incredible, don't you think? Here is a guy who somehow has figured out how to play football without the necessary attribute of actually having legs and feet. Were he like the golfer who wanted to be able to ride in a cart when all others had to walk and expected some special consideration due to his disability I'd be the first to object. Instead, Bobby Martin just wanted to play football and his team was happy to accommodate both his disability and his enormous spirit.

What was this ref thinking?

Via: The Iconic Midwest

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Flower Pot Smoker and Attainment of Greatness

Friends, I achieved near culinary greatness last night. As with all moments of inspired genius, I was neither expecting greatness, nor had any reasonable expectation of achieving such lofty status. It was a normal Monday night, a chill was in the air, and the unmistakable sign of fall's imminent arrival was all around. Your typical anynight in September.

Yet as my hickory smoke began perfuming the cool air that afternoon, accented by the unmistakable aroma of smoking pork ribs, I began to get the feeling that something very special was happening in my flower pot smoker.

As you all know I am a bit of an obsessive when it comes to the wonder and glory of smoked meats. Ribs, shoulder, brisket, why I have done them all. I've consumed bar be que in all parts of the country and I have been known to drive hours to sample the output of a skilled pit master anonymously toiling in some unknown burg.

As a result, I'm good. Not great, but very good. I've mastered pork shoulder and my brisket achieves a smoky tenderness that will make a grown man weep with joy. Those that have had my que, hesitate to even add sauce for fear of dowsing one bit of the smoky goodness.

Yet I have kept from friends, relatives and yes you dear readers, a secret shame. A fault in my ability so profound, I dare not mention it to anyone. Pork ribs? Well, they've been a bit of a problem.

Past efforts have always been edible, but what master of the manly art wants to settle for edible? Either the meat ended up too dry, or too tough, or not enough of something else. This is not without reason. Ribs done well are very hard to accomplish. The science behind the transformation of meat through the application of heat and smoke is quite complex.

First we start with a cut of meat, ribs in this case, that is not from the tenderest, juiciest part of the pig. So to get the meat to tenderize it must be cooked for a very long time, with the idea being that over time the heat slowly melts the tendons that make the meat tough resulting in a juicy, tender product. Yet if you smoke at too high a temperature, or for too long, the meat will dry out yielding an inedible result. Ribs, being a fairly thin piece of meat to begin with, are prone to drying out more than other cuts. To combat this, I've done everything known to man to keep the meat moist. I've brined the ribs. I've cooked them super slowly at low temperature. I've cooked them at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time. Yet no combination has revealed itself as perfect.

Last night I hit the best result yet. Due to lack of time, I decided to go without brining the meat. In the past, brining has definitely allowed the meat to hold more moisture, but I have long suspected that it also made the meat a little chewier, which was unacceptable in my view. Having applied my rib rub the night before, I fired up my flower pot smoker an hour before I put the meat on to be sure that the chamber was well heated from the start. At 1pm I put two slabs of ribs in the smoker and applied a wet mop consisting of beer, cider vinegar, worsteshire sauce, salt, pepper, chopped onions and a little of the rub. I then smoked the ribs for 1.5 hours at about 155 degrees.

At the 1.5 hour mark I added more hickory, reapplied the mop, and smoked for another 1.5 hours. After the ribs had been on for 3 hours, I reapplied the mop, added more chips and then kicked the smoker temp up to 190 degrees where it stayed for the next four hours. Every hour to hour and a half I added more mop and hickory and finally pulled the ribs at 8pm. Total cooking time; seven hours.

After letting the ribs sit for 15 minutes or so, we began to cut them into edible pieces. This is when it became clear that something wonderful had happened. As I was separating the ribs, the meat literally started falling off of the bone. This folks, is bar be que nirvana. The meat, while still retaining its texture, separated from the bone very cleanly. Once in the mouth the smoky flavor was present but not over powering, and the meat itself toothsome and juicy.

One word about the whole separating from the bone characteristic. There are those that will tell you that the best way to accomplish this is to par boil the ribs prior to smoking. This practice is an outrage and should you find people committing such an act, they should be reported to the authorities immediately. I'm quite sure there is a provision in the Patriot Act to protect us from these people. Par boiling is wrong for two reasons. First, anytime that you boil meat you will lose some of its flavor in the water as the fat melts and is boiled away. Secondly, par boiling, while it will cause the meat to separate from the bone once cooking is done, also turns the meat into a mushy, gray substance that is not fit for man nor beast. Enough said.

At this point I am pleased, yet not completely satisfied with my ascension to yet another level of expertise in the manly art of bar be que. The one area where my product was lacking last night was in the smoky crust of the meat. In short, there was too much of it. I suspect that this was from my choice of mop, a beer based concoction that contained too much sugar. Next time, I will dial back the sugar content of the mop, and hopefully hit a near perfect product.

Wish me luck. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 19, 2005

Its Talk Like a Pirate Day.......

.......and who am I to argue with her?

Ey Maty!

via: Instapundit Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Are You Ready For Some Football?!

After last week's impressive 10-6 showing against the spread, my wallet is bulging and my confidence soaring. So, we've cranked up the server farm, run the models, and have come up with the following prescient picks for week 2:

Detroit by 1.5 over the Bears. Da Bears.
Ravens by 3.5 over the Titans. Titans.
Steelers by 6 over the Texans. Take the Texans
Colts by 9 over the Jags. Colts.
Bengals by 3 over the Vikes. Bengals
Eagles by 11 over the 49ers. Eagles
Bucs by 2.5 over the Bills. Bucs
Pats by 3 over the Panthers. Panthers.
Seahawks by 1 over the Falcons. Seahawks.
Cards by 1 over the Rams. Cards.
Jets by 6 over the Dolphins. Jets.
Pack by 6.5 over Cleveburg. Pack.
Broncos by 3 over the Chargers. Take the Broncs.
Chiefs by 1.5 over the Raiders. Take the Raiders.

Giants by 3 over the Saints. Saints.
Cowboys by 6 over the Redskins. Cowboys.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Race In America

I've been thinking about race in America these past few days, and I've wanted to make some comments about it. If you're my age, race is one of the few issues that has been on the forefront of the American political discourse for your entire life. This, despite the fact that race relations have improved dramatically during this time, beginning with the Civil Rights Act and continuing with the natural progression of cultural enlightenment that develops as generations mature.

During my childhood in the '60's race relations were undergoing dramatic change. Martin Luther King evolved from a civil rights activist to a national leader. While many initially did not agree with his goals, over time most developed a respect for his abilities, acceptance for his ideas, and admiration for his accomplishments. He, more than most, brought much needed change to this country and he is remembered today with a national holiday for his greatness.

Yet MLK was not alone. He was supported by several young aides including Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, and Ralph Abernathy just to name a few. Strong impetus for change also came from our country's white citizens so that demand for change had a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic base of support that created an unstoppable momentum. This base also included members of both political parties to the extent that Republicans provided greater support for the Civil Rights act than did Democrats. Indeed, without Republican votes the Act, promoted by a Democratic President, would have never passed.

My point is not to separate this historical view into a question of which party was more pure at the time with regard to race relations, but rather to make clear the simple fact that change resulted from a unified view of the populace about what quite simply was right. Minds did not change over night, which is no surprise since they rarely do. I can still remember members of the older generations acknowledging that the discrimination of the past was wrong saying, "well I guess they shouldn't have to be different than us". The old dislike (yes, hatred in some cases) was still there, but even those who were slow to change, saw a new world on the horizon and knew that the change would be for the better.

Since those days the awful specter of racism has been greatly reduced. This is not to say that racism no longer exists, it clearly does. The difference is that unlike the old days the kind of institutionalized racism that holds back entire groups of people has been eliminated. Where laws were once needed to enforce tolerance, the cultural norm has now been sufficiently strengthened so that it can act as an enforcement mechanism, and as a result we can seriously question whether equal opportunity laws are still necessary.

Yet all is not well with regard to race relations in America. The controversy that surfaced in New Orleans last week is only the most recent indication of this sorry fact. We all saw it happen before our very eyes. Flood waters hadn't even stopped rising when the drum beat of accusations began that the governmental relief response was somehow muted because a majority of the victims were black. A subsequent poll of African Americans indicated that a full 72% agreed with idiot rapper Kanye West that "George Bush doesn't care about black people".

The media, desperate in any situation to exploit controversy and build ratings, was happy to help us "begin a national discussion on race" and reported with glee America's latest racial debate. Absent in this discussion, however, were some simple facts that clearly show that whatever governmental failings existed, and no matter what level of government was most responsible the one undeniable fact that we could establish was that race had absolutely nothing to do with the government's efforts. Katrina impacted a huge portion of this country, and the government's response was equally criticized across the entire region. The truth is that the destruction from the storm affected far more whites than blacks, and all evidence points to the fact that both whites and blacks were equally under whelmed with the relief effort. Add in the fact that the local breakdown of relief in New Orleans was the fault of a government led by a black mayor and the racial angles of this story tend to be revealed for what they are; an ugly racist lie.

Why, in this age of enlightenment, does such a problem exist? In my view the answer is that it is the result of two factors that have worked together to hold a large portion of the black American populace back. Straight block voting for the Democratic party, and an entrenched racial activist bureaucracy both of which rely on black anger and yes, black bigotry to remain in power.

Let's look first at the impact of block voting. Ever since the Nixon initiated "Southern Strategy" in the late sixties and early seventies, black Americans have voted almost exclusively for the Democratic party. This loyalty not only has gone largely unrewarded, but in fact has been exploited by the Democrats and resulted in undue suffering by so many poor black Americans. The facts are clear. A majority of our cities have been controlled by the Democratic Party for years, and the buearacracy of those cities which includes the police departments, local education infrastructure and public housing authorities have failed their constituents. Crime has grown steadily in the inner city, test scores plummeted, and drop out rates increased. Public housing has been a disaster, and in cities like Chicago it has been used as a means of quarantining poor blacks in small controllable islands of despair and crime.

The effect on the Democratic party has been the exact inverse. Without the near exclusive support that black Americans have given the Democrats, it is doubtful that the party would have won any national election in the past 30 years, and the party's numbers in both the house and senate would most likely have been greatly reduced. For this reason Democratic leaders have been quick to exploit black resentment over the Southern Strategy, and have successfully labeled the opposition as the racist party. This exploitation continued during the Katrina disaster with Howard Dean leading the chorus of racial accusations even while flood waters rose, and people died.

An entrenched racial bureaucracy has also been built over the past half century that once served a useful purpose in breaking down barriers for all, but now serves only to enrich a select few. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson seem to have done quite well for themselves in their effort to fight the "white power structure", but their beneficial impact on poor black Americans has been less clear. Sharpton has achieved national status and even run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Jackson, when not garnering beer distributorships for his sons, or shaking down corporations for donations, has also run for president and seems to live quite well. Future success for each though is dependent on continued black outrage, and white fear of being accused of racism.

All of this has led us to a moment in time were bigotry seems to have shifted from the white culture to the black. Gone unnoticed by many has been the stunning growth in prosperity for black Americans that have left their outrage behind, earned a good education, saved children for after marriage, and taken advantage of the opportunity that our country offers all. Those that have listened to the Democrats and the race baiters have instead wallowed in a self limiting world where fear triumphs fact and allows the privileged few to control those who wrongly believe in them. I'm reminded of Orwell's Animal Farm, and I look on in wonder at how time and again history repeats itself.

Despite this sorry history I am hopeful for the future. Black leaders such as Jackson and Sharpton are getting older and a new generation will soon take over. Some members of the old generation are also beginning to speak the truth. Cosby, Connerly, Steele, Sowell, and Thomas have begun to question the orthodoxy, and while they have been excoriated by some, others are listening. In 2004 Bush increased his share of the black vote, and while the Democrats and some of their media cohorts have been quick to announce that Katrina has set back Republican efforts for another generation, I'm not so sure this is true.

And what of these Republican efforts? So far all one can say is that they have been sorely lacking. I've been hard on the Democrats and the race baiters in this posting, but Republicans are not at all blameless. Blacks were rightly outraged by the Southern Strategy and I strongly believe that it would be both right and beneficial for the party to acknowledge their error and begin to mend fences. Additionally, Republicans need to engage in the fight and stop fearing the racist label. Conservative policies which encourage achievement and self sufficiency have a role to play in eliminating poverty and elevating people in our society. Yet unless this message is heard and debated it will attract few followers.

What is clear is that we can not continue as a country with this state of relations. John Edwards famously campaigned in the last election on the idea that there are two Americas. Edward's speech dissected the country on socioeconomic instead of racial lines, but the result is the same in that such talk only serves to divide us. As the great Republican and emancipator Lincoln once said, "A house divided cannot stand".

UPDATE: Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Poor Andy

Is it so hard to just say, "oops, sorry".

UPDATE: Apparently the boyfriend got back from walking the beagle (email of the day).

UPDATE 2: It seems the boyfriend has now broken into the scotch.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Am I Nuts Or Is This Photoshopped?

Remember those "is it live or is it Memorex" commercials? It seems we can now replace "Memorex" with "Photoshop". Reuters says that this is a note that Bush wrote to Condi at the UN Security meeting the other day. The Brits, always big fans of potty jokes (see Hill, Benny), I'm guessing found this picture quite amusing, and I must admit the capitalization of "MAY NEED A BATHROOM" is good yuks. Its all so.....whats the word....perfect? Perhaps a little to perfect.

To my question; am I nuts or is this thing photo-shopped?

UPDATE: Once again, my savant like perception exposes the truth.Posted by Picasa

Shut-up and Kill Him

Apologies to Laura Ingraham for paraphrasing her book title, but somehow I don't think she would mind.

Today, for what seems like the millionth time, we're treated to the spectacle of yet another hapless "official", this time a military guy, telling us Osama is sick and seeking medical attention. These stories which have taken on the feeling of an urban legend are all very similar in that they imply some near-term certain doom for America's Enemy Number 1, and are generally based on an unstated intelligence source. You know, the same intelligence sources that told us the Soviet Union was no where near collapse, or the same ones that failed to prepare us for 9/11.

I can't take this anymore.

Do these guys not realize that stories like this just put the exclamation point on their own incompetence. I'm sorry, I realize it must be hard to track a guy around the world, but it has been four years! Not only has it been four years (1,462 days to access satellite, spy plane, and ground reconnaissance assets), but we know the region of the world that this guy is hiding in. Hell, I could have found bin Laden by now with nothing more than a mule, some c rations, and a case of good ole American greenbacks.

But noooooo, instead we're treated to "leaks" about bin Laden's declining health, about how we're closing the noose, or about any number of other fully ridiculous propositions that we all know are nothing more than empty words.

You want to know where bin Laden is boys? Because I can tell you. He is in Iran, and he is not near death, nor is he at the center of our our noose. He's got a harem of Iranian babes (assuming such a species exists), he's lovin' life and I assure you that he is planning more attacks. So get crackin'.

This is not hard. Pay off some of his murderous compadres to get his location, send in some commandos and kill the guy. Kill.......him........ now!

Oh, and by the way, until you accomplish this please shut the hell up. Because you look like fools.Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

No Good Deed

This is an incredible yet entirely predictable story.

Apparently a group of prominent American Jews, worked their way around several bureaucratic roadblocks to be sure that the Gaza Greenhouses that had provided a living for thousands of Jews could be transferred to the Palestinians. Raising $14M of their own money, after the Palestinian Authority had refused to accept $14M of U.S. aid money and then transfer the aid to the Jewish owners as compensation for the greenhouses, the American's largesse would ensure that 3,500 Palestinians had employment. So what did the Palestinians do?

They looted the greenhouses. Read the story, it is truly incredible.

I'm tempted to say that the Americans got nothing for their generosity, but then I wonder. Maybe they bought something that is hard to find in the world these days. They bought the truth, and we all had a chance to view it.

Did we really see it though?

Monday, September 12, 2005

There's Something About Mary

Oh boy, I hope they save one of them body bags for Sen. Landrieu's career, cause she sure didn't help herself on FoxNews Sunday. She attempted to continue the shameful recent practice of local Louisiana politician's in claiming to "not want to point fingers" and then pointing her finger squarely at the Feds. Of course, the more we know, the more we seem to find out that the Fed's response was actually pretty decent, Mr. Brown's resignation notwithstanding, yet our dear Mary, perhaps concerned that certain local political families may be held accountable by the electorate, just kept trying to weave the same tired web of lies.

Wallace would have none of it, and it makes for excellent viewing. Check out the video via the PoliticalTeen.Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Are You Ready For Some Football!!!!!!!!!

Whoa....guess I missed that promised Friday NFL picks posting! Apologies all around, but things got a bit busy around here.

Well, its Sunday morning, the sun is out and the hits are just 3 hours away. I found this photo of an Urlacher lable and thought it was a great way to start the season.....mostly because it should be the last time the Bears do not have a losing record this year!

Ah, but now is not the time for negativity, now is the time for my Savant like pics:

Washington by 6 over the Bears: Take the Bears
Denver by 4.5 over Miami: Take the Dolphins
Bengals by 3.5 over Browns: Bengals
Bills by 4.5 over the Texans: Bills
Steelers by 7 over the Titans: Steelers
Panthers by 3 over Saints: Saints
Vikes by 6 over the Bucs: Bucs
Jags by 3 over Seahawks: Seahawks
Chiefs by 3 over Jets: Jets
Giants by 3 over Cards: Cards
Rams 5.5 over 49ers: 49ers
Lions 3 over Pack: Lions
Chargers 4.5 over Dallas: Chargers
Colts 3 over Ravens: Ravens
Eagles 1.5 over Falcons: FalconsPosted by Picasa

Thursday, September 8, 2005

May I Please Beat Nance To It?

I can see it coming and I would just like to beat Nancy Pelosi to it. Here is the next Demo talking point.

"First Bush appoints Brown to head FEMA, a man with no relevant experience, and now he wants Roberts, a man who has never been a judge, to be Chief Justice. Dangerous, dangerous."

The Hair, The Beard..........

The Snake!

That's right my friends it that time of year once again. The air chills, the leaves begin to fall and the bone crunching goodness that is our national sport once again rules the air waves. Why, you ask, do I post a picture of southpawed has been to celebrate the return of all that is right and good with America? Two reasons.

First, Kenny Stabler represents the glory years of not only the Raiders but of the NFL as well. A throw back even when he was active, Stabler had the ability to stumble from the champagne bottle littered hottub, weave his way through the maze of passed out bimbos, and find himself upright on the field carving up the opponent's defense with near savant like ability. Kenny was not only a man, he was the man, and to 17 year old highschool fans it didn't get any better than Kenny Stabler firing a pass to Fred Biletnikoff for another first down, or Cliff Branch for the TD bomb. The Raider's slogan was "Just Win Baby" and that is what they did on any given Sunday. Today's league is a hollow shell of what the NFL once was, restrained from its former greatness by selfish stars, and PC enforced parity. Yet we still love it, and once again its time to throw open the windows, put on the extra sweater, light the cigar and get ready for some football.

Secondly, my second fave team is playing the Superbowl Champs tonight in the league kickoff game. Just one of my many talents is a near clairvoyant ability to pick games against the spread and every Friday this fall will be NFL Friday at the Pursuit. So my remaining picks will be published tomorrow. For tonight, go with the Raiders and give the 7.5.

Just win baby!Posted by Picasa

More Bush Incompetence

So Louisiana has received more Army Corp funding than any other state during the Bush administration eh? This kind of throws the whole, "Bush cut funding" argument, which was specious to begin with, out the window.

That is except when you consider that the lying bastard should have saved the corrupt Louisiana politicians from their foul ways.

Mary Landrieu, please call your office. Tears and further accusations will be needed to cover for this one. Perhaps the Mayor can teach you to curse on the radio, I hear that scheme is particularly impressive to the national media.

Via Instapundit

Ummmm, So What?

Why just last night I had a pan seared Halibut fillet, roast corn salad and some delicious Gaija melon. Afterwards, I watched Rockstar INXs and contemplated my vacation this winter.

What Must It Be Like?

I saw this article this morning and it made me wonder what it must be like to feel so full of moral certitude that you have no problem exploiting the victims of tragedy for your own political gain. I realize we live in a political world, and our system thrives on debate between adversaries. This crosses the line, and its from the same people who complain that the right does this sort of thing all the time. I thought the left's position was that hypocrisy was the greatest sin one could commit.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Final Thoughts On Katrina

I have been unable to post anything over the past couple of days because the disaster in New Orleans has refused to leave the forefront of my thinking. After posting about "Mayor Sleepy and Governor incompetent" below, I took a little criticism in the comments section for being one sided and suffering from an unfortunate case of poor nasal hygiene. Oh, and there was also the suggestion that my post represented "everything that is wrong with this country". So I guess I really covered the bases!

Despite the fact that I have led disaster responses, albeit on a much smaller scale than Katrina, and despite the fact that my experience and training suggested to me that this was primarily a local problem, I took this criticism to heart and I have refrained from posting any further until more facts came to light. While this site does not get a significant amount of traffic, it is instructive that those that did not like my "Mayor Sleepy" bit really didn't critique the post on fact or focus, but I think more on terms of tenor. I wasn't very nice to Mayor Sleepy or Governor incompetent, and that rubbed good people the wrong way.

Fair enough. My extreme disdain for these two fools (oops there I go again) was born of my disgust not only for the way they not only abandoned their responsibilities in the midst of an ongoing disaster, but also for their pathetic attempt to transfer responsibility for the disaster to those who did not have primary responsibility as first responders in an emergency. It seemed clear to me at the time that the Mayor and the Governor were in violation not only of their roles in a disaster scenario according to traditional command and control structure, but most likely of these roles as per formal guidelines that their governments most have established. Evidence that has developed since my posting on Friday has shown that my hunch was correct and that if anything I under emphasized the degree to which these two abdicated responsibility.

We now know the following:
1. No local command and control structure was in place to serve as a coordination point
2. The State command center was not in touch with anyone locally or at FEMA
3. The city and state violated their own plans on several provisions
4. The city did not order an evacuation until a direct plea was given by President Bush
5. Evacuation was too late, with highway lane direction being changed only as of noon Sunday, less than 12 hours prior to the storm.
6. The Mayor knew that he could not evacuate the city
7. The Mayor had planned to release a DVD telling citizens "they were on their own in evacuation"
8. The city had run a practice exercise 13 months earlier that highlighted these issues, and nothing was done to improve the situation
9. Previous evacs to the Superdome during much smaller storms had resulted in crime, attacks and squalor, yet nothing was done to prevent the same from occurring.
10. The city had a significant public bus capability that was not planned for, utilized or protected.
11. Two third's of the city's police force abandoned their post. This was in part due to the failure of the city to provide for the protection of the policemen's families while they worked to save lives.
12. The Governor failed to deploy the National Guard troops at her disposal in a timely manner.
13. The Governor failed to request FEMA aid in a timely basis.
14. State and local plans did not include any storing of food, water, or medical supplies as a first response source of relief while federal assets were moving into the area.
15. Despite the example of New York's communication problems on 9/11 no precautions were taken to maintain disaster communication.
16. As of last night, the Red Cross was still not allowed to move into New Orleans by the State Homeland security agency.

There is no question that the feds failed to act quickly enough in this scenario. Most accounts estimate that their delay cost the citizens of New Orleans a critical 12 to 24 hours of additional suffering before relief could be provided in any sufficient manner. I find it very difficult to quantify exactly how to criticism FEMA in any specific manner because of the failings of local officials that I've listed above. How, for example, do you quantify the exact delay in providing aid that is the result of poor FEMA management when there was no local infrastructure for the agency to access in New Orleans. One way might be to compare the results in Mississippi to those in New Orleans. Doing this provides an indication of just how important local planning is to the relief effort.

Mississippi, which has almost been treated as an after thought in media reporting, fared much better than New Orleans inspite of the fact that it was hit much harder by the hurricane. The difference, in my view, is two-fold. First, the New Orleans flood presented a much more complex relief challenge than the ruined buildings and blocked roads of Mississippi. Second, and more importantly, the state of Mississippi clearly benefited from superior preparations, and better leadership. Compare Haley Barbour's work to Kathleen Blanco's complaints and you get a pretty clear picture of one of the complicating factors in this disaster.

Yet what about FEMA and its director Mike Brown? Brown's resume does not suggest that he is qualified to head the agency, and his agency's performance this past week has not been above criticism. I will be very interested in the post mortem of this exercise, and I suspect he must go.

As for President Bush there is also room for criticism. Clearly he appointed a man to head FEMA who was not the best possible choice. This appointment is all the worse since FEMA was moved under the control of the Department of Homeland Security which added a layer of management between the President and his disaster head. This combination of increased bureaucracy and weak leadership had a direct impact on the fed's responsiveness in my view.

Should Bush have moved faster to federalize the recovery effort? This was probably impossible given the legality of the relationship between the federal government and the state. While the feds had to be aware of the utter incompetence of the Louisiana authorities, it is not their job to usurp the wisdom of the local electorate. In fact, it is largely illegal for the fed's to do anything until the proper requests come from state authorities, and as we've established these requests were slow in coming from Gov. Blanco.

So that's it. I've purged myself of this whole Katrina disaster and hopefully can now think about something else. To those that disagreed with me in my Mayor Sleepy post, I say thanks and assure you I took your thoughts to heart. I guess I also ended up disagreeing with you, but I suppose that is no real surprise.

Oh, and one more thing. For some reason I seem to attract a fairly balanced group of readers representing both the left and the right views in this country. I am quite proud of this fact and I hope to be able to continue this. So I do have a question for my valued readers from the left end of the spectrum and I ask this with completely snark free intentions. Are you proud of the response of the left and the Democratic Party? Personally I have found myself stunned that so many would jump on the back of a disaster to accuse the President of disinterest, guitar playing, golfing, classism and outright racism. I may be wrong, but I find it hard to come up with anytime the Clinton haters politicized the suffering of others to attack their target. So I 'm kind of curious about your thoughts if you care to share them.

UPDATE: Remarkably ignorant of disaster preparation and action, the media has been unsurprisingly inept in its rush to assign blame to the feds. Now it seems they may be getting a clue as to what really happened. Here is a report from ABC which finally provides a little balance in the reporting.

UPDATE 2: Good Lord, I just can't take much more of this. Is everyone on the left insane, or is it just the nut jobs that get TV time? I was working out today and I know I should just watch AMC, but "McCarthur" was on and while it is a very good flick, I've seen it and really the ending isn't a huge surprise so I popped over to FoxNews. My friends on the left, when they aren't quoting it to bolster their point, tell me that its reliably conservative. So, I'm watching some flood news, some Rehnquist funeral and quite suddenly the horrible apparition of a bloated Naomi Wolf appears on my screen.

Unsurprisingly, dear Naomi, who really should stay off the doughnuts for a while (not to mention do SOMETHING with that hair), believes that the whole disaster was Bush's responsibility. She bolsters her thoughts with statements that approximate "its a sad day when a nation can't turn to its president to take charge of a disaster", fully ignoring things like laws and constitutions. She then goes on to say something like, "Even Hollywood gets it. Harrison Ford would be holding meetings." I'm not making this up!

On to "debate" her if that is what you can call this was Ward Connerly who tried in vain to point out that first response is a local issue and we have things like laws that prevent the feds from barging in. Connerly looked utterly befuddled that he would have to explain something like this to a liberal, and the whole scene took on a sort of SNL look to it, not unlike the Mike Myers/Kanye skit from Friday night. Perhaps the only difference was that Naomi, unlike Kanye, is able to coherently string an incoherent argument together. Where are the Moynihans?

UPDATE 3: Further detail is now available on my point number 16 above. Major Garrett of FoxNews is reporting that the Red Cross had supplies prepositioned that could have been delivered to the Superdome and presumably the Convention Center. The Red Cross was barred by State Homeland Security because the felt if people were fed, they wouldn't leave. Read more in this Hugh Hewitt post.

Friday, September 2, 2005

Mayor Sleepy and Governor Incompetent

I really didn't want to start playing the blame game in New Orleans since there is a continuing disaster underway, and people need help. Unfortunately, in the last 24 hours of media coverage we've had to endure wild accusations from the moronic left, and unprofessional displays of ridiculous coverage such as seen on Fox News with Shepard Smith chasing a hapless New Orleans police officer, and last night on ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel berating the head of FEMA.

The real low though was reached by Mayor Ray "Sleepy" Nagin, and Governor Kathleen "Incompetent" Blanco. In the past 24 hours, these two leaders who did little or nothing to prepare their governments for a disaster that virtually everyone knew was possible had the temerity to blame the federal government for not responding fast enough. These two make me sick.

First lets take a step back. I'm not going to claim I know everything about preparing for a disaster, and recovering from it once it occurs, but I have had some experience in this area. In my past life, part of my responsibilities was to be in charge of the disaster recovery planning and action for a firm that managed hundreds of billions of dollars. I successfully led our 9/11 recovery effort, our East Coast power outage recovery, and I made sure that we were fully prepared when SARs threatened to shut down operations in the U.S. and or Canada. So I know a little bit about this stuff.

When planning for a disaster there is only one thing that you know with absolute certainty. No matter how much you plan, no matter how many possible disasters you can think of in your mind before the actual event occurs, when disaster does strike it will be in the form of something that you didn't anticipate. So instead of planning for specific events, you plan for specific contingencies such as loss of power, loss of communications, loss of key personnel, and so on. The key to disaster recovery efforts is to have a broad game plan in place, an infrastructure pre-built that will be available in a disaster, and to drill your team to react to contingencies that will inevitably arise.

One thing and one thing only has been clear in the New Orleans disaster. Mayor Sleepy and Governor Incompetent did none of this.

Not only was their planning insufficient, but these two had full knowledge of exactly what the disaster would be prior to its occurrence. This is a luxury that any emergency preparedness leader would relish. Knowledge of the specific event allows you to model everything in a way that typical emergency preparedness doesn't allow. Countless articles were written ahead of time that interviewed experts resident in New Orleans about the inadequacy of the levee system, and the likely impact of its failure. Even worse, hurricane Ivan gave these two a sneak preview of what was likely to happen in a larger hurricane event. Yet they did nothing. This is criminal negligence if I ever saw it and people are dead today as a result.

Lesson one from Ivan, or any other disaster for that matter, should have been that it takes time for help to arrive. It is a morbid equation that also tells us that the worse the disaster the longer it takes for help to get organized and in place.

My experience during the NY power outage was an excellent example of how a small event can become quite large and potentially devastating. We never planned for an outage that would roll all the way west to Ohio, and across the border to our operations in Canada. What we did plan for was what we would do if FOR ANY REASON or facilities were uninhabitable for a long period of time. Further, we drilled our people on what they would do at the beginning of a disaster while we were powering up our back-up sites. As a result, when power went down and communications were out, our team across two countries was able to act in a coordinated fashion even though many were not able to speak to each other due to land line and cell phone outages. Happily power came up the next day, and our preparations were not needed. However, had power not come up, our people were in place and ready to go because we prepared and drilled in advance.

So I must ask, what did Mayor Sleepy and Governor Incompetent have planned for their city while they waited for federal help to arrive? They knew a flood was likely. They knew exactly what the implications of a flood were for the city infrastructure and its populace. They knew that 28% of their population was living below the poverty line and unable to evacuate in the event of a hurricane. They knew that after the "near miss" of Ivan that the Superdome was uninhabitable within 48 hours.

They knew all of this, and more. Yet nothing was planned. In Chicago we have a fully reinforced 911 emergency preparedness center. It is run by disaster recovery experts, and drills are routinely run that include both the federal recovery experts and the local business community. The center itself is reinforced and will be the command center when a disaster strikes the city. Representatives from the city, state, and federal governments have been identified who will man the center. Specific business representatives have been named that will either be at the center, or be in touch with the center. Did Mayor Sleepy or Governor Incompetent put anything similar in place for New Orleans? If not, why?

New Orleans knew that a flood was possible, and that its impact would be devastating. Just thinking off the top of my head, I would have planned for this specific event by establishing a command center such as the above, and by constructing a fully reinforced warehouse that would have contained food, water, cots, blankets, medical supplies, pumps, generators, and a couple hundred thousand gallons of emergency gasoline. Oh, and I would have thought about boats. Inflatables, airboats something. Where is the infrastructure Mayor Sleepy? Where is the plan Governor Incompetent?

Mayor Sleepy and Governor Incompetent did none of this and New Orleans is a national embarrassment because of their abdication of duty. To hear these two now blame the feds for their own failings disgusts me, and it should disgust you too.

UPDATE: Will Collier at Vodka Pundit is a bit more even keeled than I am on this subject, and reaches many of the same conclusions through a different path. Its a must read. The failings of state and local government in this case are deep and profound.

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Thursday, September 1, 2005

I Hate To Mention This.....

.....but I think somebody needs to say it. So my apologies in advance if I'm being a little insensitive, but before we spend billions of our tax dollars rebuilding New Orleans I have one small question.

Should we move the city?

I am all for the American "can-do" spirit, and certainly we have the knowledge and wealth to make it better than it was before, but why in the world would we do this? By virtually any measure, New Orleans' current location is an awful place to build a modern city. It is surrounded by water and even worse is the fact that it has been sinking for the past century.

I've been learning some additional information over the past couple of days that raises this question even further in my mind. I had always assumed that the levee system surrounding the city was to protect it from Hurricanes, and for this reason wondered why in the world anyone would have constructed a system that they knew was inadequate to handle the worst of storms. Yet, it appears that I was wrong in this assumption.

According to what I've learned this week, the levee system was built to stop the seasonal flooding that occurred with a predictable frequency. Fair enough, but experts have now said that this decision actually was a conscious trade off between small routine flooding of the city, and a major infrequent disaster such as we are now witnessing. Even more to the point is the apparent fact that the levee system, reduced nature's natural hurricane protection by eliminating huge amounts of coastal wet lands and effectively bringing the Gulf of Mexico to the city's front door step.

Further, we're now told that not only was the levee system inadequate for anything over a fast moving category 3 storm, but that it had not been properly maintained due to cost factors and bureaucratic bungling between the city, state, and federal authorities. I've already heard one ex-mayor of New Orleans blame the president and the feds for not spending enough money on the levee system, and I'm really not interested in witnessing this kind of finger pointing, because we all know that there is plenty of blame to go around.

The bottom line is that this is a pretty dumb place to build a city, and now that the poor folks of New Orleans expect that my tax dollars will finance not only the rebuilding, but also the financing of the construction and perpetual maintenance of an improved levee system, I've got to ask the question.

Should we move New Orleans?